As I've mentioned, over the last few years, my love of sax has been reignited by a number of jazz CDs I've reviewed in these pages, and this one by The Greg Abate Quintet is helping firm up everything, as Abate (multi-saxes and flute) and Phil Woods know their way around their hallowed instrument. Some songs, we all know, are standards and so are some players, and Woods is definitely among the latter, a mainstay in the top-flight jazz world for decades. His teaming with Abate, who has admired the gent for half of forever, is a trad-jazz-lover's dream, and the solos on this CD are plentiful as the band kicks into high gear immediately on Roger Over and Out.
Normally, a 'featuring' type LP has one or two songs by the esteemed guest, but this one boasts a full half the cuts being populated by Woods, who called the sessions a "joy" and the songs "good…challenging!". When Phil sits out on other tracks, Abate gets the spotlight along with pianist Jesse Green, and the two waltz, boogie, and pirouette like crazy, pealing out solo spots, trading licks. Really, y'all, this is a sax orgy, and thank God for that, after all the saccharine Kenny G ilk of genteel decorous backwash for so many years! Bill Goodwin mans a commanding set of traps, never formulaic, and Evan Gregor (bass) is given a number of measures to trot his chops up front, so no one's neglected anywhere, whether in foursome or quintet.
At times, in passages of Pear for the Bear and elsewhere, I'm reminded of Wayne Shorter with Weather Report but also his solo dates, and this CD sounds live though it was definitely a studio gig. Abate nabs a number of opportunities to flourish the flute, as in J.A.G., where he tracks Woods' sax lines beautifully, zipping all around Phil's playing. Then, of course, there's the mellower side, in Special K and even more so in Contemplation, but it's a dimension that completely avoids the facile, the cinematically vacant, and the emotionally simplistic. All told, then, The Greg Abate Quintet featuring Phil Woods compact disc is jazz.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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